I've never growen a camellia in my life, but I'm thinking I want to plant several in a shady bed in my front yard.
I've got a brick wall backing it and I'm told they respond well to esplanade training?
Did you mean Espalier? I have about ten Camellia Sasanqua's which are espalier trained against a wall. I have found it works very well. The plants enjoy the openness and airy nature. I have the climbing ficus attached to the wall behind some of them and it works well. I prefer to espalier the Sasanqua variety. They have an abundance of flowers and I find them willing to be trained. I start with one to two gallon container plants.
A couple of experiences: Every once in a while a bush will not repsond well to me tying back its branch. The leaves drop. I found that cutting the tie and letting the branch grow free causes it to liven up.
My method of espalier is to place three redwood or bamboo stakes vertically behind the camellia and against the wall. I then tie back the branches using that green plastic garden "tape." Once the plant is "structured" enough I remove the ties and stakes. Then clipping does the job. I also watch the PH level when they are near a wall. If concrete is in the wall, the lime can bring the PH up. I use granular garden sulfur to bring the PH to acid. Ocassionally, I have had a whole half of a bush revolt and drop its leaves when tying back. It comes back though.
Finally, I also train Camellia Japonica in containers by placing two vertical bamboo stakes into the container. I run short pieces of bamboo vertically as needed and tie it together with twine. I then pull and guide the camillia branches over the years to conform to the bamboo. Eventually, I remove the bamboo.
yes, I did mean espalier.
I've done it with fruit trees. I used a taut heavy gauge wire to guid them because it didn't show up much.
The Sasanquas are the ones that tend to be smaller, right?
Probably what I am looking for. I've got beds around the perimeter of my yard and only the one is shaded. I've got roses in all the rest so I've been looking for a shade plant dramatic enough to hold it's own against them on that wall. It SEEMS like Camellias would be ideal, but like I said, I've never actually tried growing one